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Socket Height

Postby Kishor Shah » Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:19 pm

On your website it says "it is suggested that sockets are placed at a height of at least 450mm from the floor. Another website says that this height requirement is for newbuilds - perhaps meaning it is only for new buildings. We want to put extra sockets in our house. Is there a legal requirement to abide by this 450mm rule?
Kishor Shah
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Postby ericmark » Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:37 am

The regulation on height is Part M of building regulations and there is allowance even on new builds for floor mounted sockets where it is not practical to mount in/on a wall. Some of the regulations are impossible to abide with when for example something operated by hand needs to be 1200mm or below and anything needing to be viewed needs to be 1200mm to 1400mm so it is impossible to install a thermostat at the correct height. There are also differences in dwellings and non dwellings with minimum on dwellings at 450mm but non dwellings at 400mm maybe wheel chairs auto lower 50mm as they leave the house!
We also have electrical regulations which state "522.6.1 Wiring systems shall be selected and erected so as to minimize the damage arising from mechanical stress, e.g. by impact abrasion, penetration, tension or compression during installation, use or maintenance." So a bed side lamps socket may be below the height that the bed head may bang into the socket while making the bed. Or a kitchen socket may be higher to avoid food mixers etc. from smashing into the socket.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 uses the word "Reasonable" and if there is no reason why a socket should not be mounted at 450mm then even in an old house one should keep to that height. But it is generally considered un-reasonable to mount new sockets at 450mm when all the old ones are much lower.
English Heritage and CADW can veto parts of Part M as not being in historic character of the building. And with old buildings the main thing seems to be any alterations should not make it worse. So removing a ground floor lue is a no.
However although there is a consensus that old properties do not have to comply with Part M there is no legal basis for that, and if you were to mount sockets on a re-wire at below 450mm, and a occupant complained, likely you would be required to correct it. However if no one complains in a old house you are unlikely to have a problem if you keep to a height already used.
I have talked many times of the whole idea of socket heights at other than ground floor as if there is no way for a wheel chair user to access the floor why should the sockets be at a wheel chair height? But having seen a wheel chair user have their house altered to allow them to use it one must accept is a stair lift is installed it would then mean all socket heights would need changing so to reduce the councils bill to convert a house I can see why they want it to comply even up-stairs.
But my mother (Wheel chair bound) can reach the floor without a problem as can most people sitting down so really the socket height is more for people with bad backs who can't bend than wheel chair users.
I have found if you can give the building inspector a good reason for not complying with the heights then there is no problem but it doesn't look right Is not normally accepted as good reason.
Anyway if you Google Part M you can read it all yourself it is a free download. Do be careful to separate non dwelling from dwelling very easy to get them mixed up.
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Postby kbrownie » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:45 am

If you wish to put additional sockets in, it is recommended that you keep to the current height of existing sockets, the regulation of socket and switch heights are for new dwellings, even if you had a complete re-wire the socket heights would not need to be at the regulated height as the dwelling is not new and even if the dwelling was new as stated by eric, you may not need to comply to height regulations.
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